Diferencias, ii

14 October 2008

In Jaén – a city last in anyone’s thoughts when it was an emirate whose surrender via treaty made it the tip of the spear against Moorish Granada, and where, since then, the anticipatory splendor of its cathedral & mountaintop cross & high walls & eleven gates named after saints has withered on the vine and grown dusty and is now a distant memory – cryptic neonazi & anarchist graffiti duel on the walls of alleys & parks. It is suggested, darkly, that the cure for fascism is a bullet. Falange, the coalition of Catholic priests, corporate power, & military ambition founded by Primo de Rivera back in the 30s, is scribbled on alley walls. Anarchist As blot out the swatiskas.

Posters for the last correos of the season, the monumental battles of torros & matadores, are defaced & refaced in turn: (The schedule of correos is papered over by signs featuring the sillouhette of bulls & the words: No la tortura – and replaced in turn by affirmatives: Sí a la féria – until the spraypaint is pulled out, a mute: NO, in red. Elsewhere: La tortura animale no es arte ni cultura.)

Apartments for rent, nannying, & private classes are advertised ubiquitously by poster as well, & by neighborhood flier (do not try to find an apartment in Spain by looking online), so that the street even in silence is a murmuring babble of sign. There are the graffitis, unpoliced, & the constant mute presence of ruin – the ancient foundations of houses next to the cathedral’s five century old rear façade are used as rubbish pits, and the side of the building adjacent is painted orange. Unanswered phone calls are free; the young ring each other once, twice, three times without picking up as a signal to meet in predetermined locations, cafés or bars.

Cerveza & café are available almost everywhere, and so the American liquor store is almost nonexistant. The babble of the street & the cheap meeting at the café makes redundant the faceless contact of the internet. In the evening, old people, small children, families & young couples walk the plazas & the public places.

And because of all of this the chance meeting on the street & the face-to-face discussion are valued more than appointment & indirect messages.

Americans, of whom in Sevilla there were at least a dozen in the lobby of our hotel at 2 a.m. on a Saturday night, roaming from outlet to outlet, knocking over lamps to find power, moaning the irregularity of the wireless internet, are known for their umbilical connection to keyboards & screens, their rootlessness, their habitual distance from the people they love. Americanos son un poco fríos, ¿no? my roommate said to me the other night, while I was telling him that I hadn’t been home regularly since the age of 13.

In that hotel lobby in Sevilla two weeks ago: a dozen people, ears plugged by headphones, mumbling into screens to the pixelated shadows of loved ones, not looking at one another, anywhere but where they were.

2 Responses to “Diferencias, ii”

  1. […] the least: When you see graffiti on those whitewashed stucco walls like Fascism is a disease whose cure is a bullet in the head, on a […]

  2. […] the war began in ‘36, there were 1 million members. One of the oddest things about political graffiti in Spain is its recapitulation of decades-old political groups – on the walls, the Falange & […]

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